How Many Rabbits in that Hat?


Another day … another disaster. Another day … another miracle. How long can this continue for the Baltimore Orioles? It seems that practically every day brings news of another devastating injury, yet somehow the Birds continue to win with lineups and players cobbled together from remote corners of the galaxy.

In the 1970s sitcom entitled Sanford and Son, the comedian Redd Foxx would at some point in every episode act as if he was having a massive coronary attack. He would clutch his chest with one hand while raising the other arm and his gaze toward the heavens, and speak as if it were to his departed widow saying, “Oh Elizabeth, this is the big one … I’m coming home to see you now!”  But of course, since the show would have been dead without him, he never died!

So has been the 2012 season for the Baltimore Orioles. Throughout the year, player after player has gone down – all who were deemed to be mission critical. It began what seems like half a lifetime ago with Nolan Reimold – the guy who carried the team through a fantastic opening stretch of games. How could the Orioles hope to come close to contending without their left fielder? Surely they would die.

And how could the Orioles possibly win without Brian Roberts?  Remember him? He was the only person imaginable who could hit leadoff on a team with no other obvious contenders for that role. A few games back with the team, and again, the season ending injury took him out.

And then came the tsunami of DL-ers: Reynolds, Markakis, Hammel, Andino, Betemit, Patton to name but a few. But in every instance, Duquette has seemed to find a way to reach through a black hole in the universe to bring in some relative unknown to fill a black hole in the lineup.

And now, right on the verge of crossing the Red Sea into the Promised Land of the playoffs, a new round of injuries befalls the team… Tillman has elbow inflammation, Nick Markakis is out for the season with a broken thumb, and Jason Hammel apparently re-injures the surgically repaired knee.

If I am not mistaken, the list of players who have made it through the entire season without time on the DL is but nine names: Ayala, Chen, Johnson (Jim), O’Day, Strop, Wieters, Hardy, Davis, and Jones.

How long can this continue? How many miracles can come from one season? How long can the Orioles defy the odds and the veritable Sword of Damocles inexorably falling upon them with a fatal blow? How many rabbits are in that hat?

It is as if this baseball team over the season has – to picture it in terms of a single game – escaped a bases-loaded-with-none-out scenario for six extra innings, with a chance in the bottom of the 15thto win it!

Sep 5, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Baltimore Orioles bench coach John Russell (77) makes a change in the lineup against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Orioles 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Duquette has brought in one arm after another. And if there was ever a team that vindicated the baseball maxim that “you can never have enough pitching” … well, it is the 2012 Orioles!

There is something special going on here, and it has been for quite a while. It may not be seen outside Baltimore that much, but it is a unique story – one that can’t be hidden much longer. I’ll not call it destiny, but I’ll call it a significant case of positive team chemistry that has brought together a group of men to work with one another in such a way as to create the opportunity for one of those rare, uniquely-memorable life experiences.

I won’t say this team is destined and on an unconquerable fairytale pathway … there is every ingredient for a potential grand collapse; and the fact that it has not happened is what gives occasion to such an article as this one on such a them as that which I write. But I will quickly add that there are also enough ingredients in this clubhouse – pitching and hitting – to take this team to a place not remembered by many fans in our city and state.

It could all go either way. But this team owes me nothing! This has been a great season of immense interest. So why not keep it going and believe that there are even more rabbits to be pulled out of Showalter’s hat!

Twitter: @OSayOrioles  //